Storm Benefits Area Lake Levels, Wildlife

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The first major winter storm has hit the Rim Country and the White Mountains and may have caused a little inconvenience, but is a welcome arrival in regard to future water levels at the local lakes. Most rain gauges in the Payson area recorded about two inches of precipitation while the higher elevations received nearly two feet of very wet snow.

This is the beginning of the snowpack that is so vital to the Salt River chain of lakes and Arizona’s future water use for the next year. Hopefully, these winter storms will continue and build on the existing snowpack for the spring runoff.

Roosevelt Lake is currently at 76 percent of its full capacity for water and a normal winter could push the biggest reservoir of the Salt River to above 90 percent or better capacity. If this happens, the Tonto and Salt arms will again have submerged mesquite and salt cedars, which provide the perfect habitat for the early spring spawn.

The future of any major fishing reservoir is determined by the success of the spring spawn and the abundance of cover for the safety of bass and crappie fry as they develop into fingerlings. Roosevelt Lake has had back-to-back excellent springs with healthy high-water marks and a third would make a great fishing lake even better for the years to come.

Meteorologists are predicting an “El Niño” winter, which can bring the Pacific storm track directly over the Southwest. High mountain snows and Valley rains are the result and that can benefit all wildlife in Arizona, especially after the rather dismal summer monsoons. 

The forecast for the next week has three days of moisture predicted which does line up with an “El Niño” winter.

Rain or snow in the Rim Country now will pay big dividends in the spring and summer, especially for the recreational anglers who come to the Payson area by the thousands to enjoy our trout and bass fishing. That old adage, “Arizona Grows Where Water Flows” is so true.

Winter storms slow down the day’s activities and even cancel a few events, but in the long run it is a small price to pay for much-needed moisture, which is always beneficial in Arizona. This weekend enjoy the outdoors, God’s creation.

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